Saying goodbye, the MS Dhoni way!

Just like Mahendra Singh Dhoni's decision to retire from Tests in 2014, nobody had an inkling this time too.

Dhoni is the only skipper to win all three major ICC trophies — the World Cup, the World Twenty20 and the Champions Trophy.   -  Getty Images

Nobody knew. And the press conference room was packed when Mahendra Singh Dhoni sauntered into the hall after the Melbourne Test of 2014.

He had made a battling unbeaten 24 to ensure India drew the third Test - the Boxing Day match.

And then he answered questions from the media; some laced with humour, a few that betrayed a hint of irritation, and a couple of typically long-winding replies.

READ: MS Dhoni will forever remain my darling: Sandeep Patil

His focus, it appeared, was firmly on the fourth Test at SCG. Only he knew what was to come on that dramatic evening of December 30.

The bombshell

Soon, the journalists were hammering away at their laptops when the bombshell arrived. It was in the form of a press release from the BCCI.

And it said Dhoni had retired from Test cricket with immediate effect. Virat Kohli would be the Indian captain for the final Test. Nobody knew the reason. There was mayhem in the press box.

It was a massive decision and Dhoni had left everyone, even his team-mates, shell-shocked.

Wasn’t he, when appointed captain for the series, expected to lead in all the Tests?

The other argument

There was another line of argument. With India losing the first two Tests at Adelaide and Brisbane - close matches both - and with the Melbourne Test drawn, the side had already lost the series and a new captain could be groomed in Sydney.

READ: Pathan to M.S. Dhoni, Suresh Raina: Thanks for the memories, boys!

In the event, Dhoni, had from the BCCI, sought permission to retire after the press conference, and the Board had given its consent. It must have been a hugely emotional decision but his face, just minutes earlier, had given little away.

Test cricket was leaving physical scars on Dhoni, with his demanding workload, and he wanted to preserve himself for the shorter formats. That was the logical explanation.

Surprise again

And when this explosive batsman with safe gloves announced his retirement from all international cricket on Saturday, ending speculation, nobody had a clue.

The Twenty20 World Cup being postponed to 2021 would surely have played a role in his decision.

He had returned devastated after Martin Guptill’s direct hit ended his dreams - the devastating Dhoni was poised for the final onslaught - in that pulsating ODI World Cup semifinal against the Kiwis last year.

With the announcement coming on August 15, Dhoni underlined his respect for the Indian army. And it arrived in Chennai, which he considers his second home. The Chennai-Dhoni bond is indeed deep.

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